Unveil the Unseen: Journey into the Extraordinary World of Speculative Poetry
Happy National Poetry Month
As this month of celebrating poetry comes to a close, I want to share a great find with you. I recently enjoyed reading “Black From The Future: A Collection of Black Speculative Writing”. Sprinkled between the unsettling short stories about malfunctioning humans and treacherous technology, are a few interesting pieces of speculative poetry. I was surprised to learn that this is an actual genre complete with practitioners, hard-core fans, a professional organization, and its own prestigious honor, known as the Rhysling Award.
What is Speculative Poetry?
Most forms of poetry, such as a sonnet or haiku, are defined by their structural design. Speculative poetry is defined by its theme. Themes include the fantastical, the mythological, the futuristic, the weird, and the horrific. Whether a poetic work is composed in free verse or iambic pentameter, if it explores the unknown, the poem qualifies as speculative poetry.
It’s not easy to pin down who really coined the term “speculative poetry” but it is often used interchangeably with “science fiction poetry”. The chilling poem “The Raven “ by Edgar Allan Poe (1945) is considered by some to be speculative. Another example is Neil Gaiman’s poem “The Day the Saucers Came” which is also speculative poetry. Here’s a video of him reading this work:
Other well-known Speculative Poets include:
Christina Rosetti (1830–1894): Her well-known, controversial narrative poem entitled Goblin Market (published in 1862) owes some of its popularity to the number of well-reasoned debates about the poems true meaning. You can find the poem here, as well as this video explaining why this speculative poem is a challenge to interpret.